Jimmy Johnson - Pepper's Hangout
  • 01 Same Old Blues
  • 02 Married Woman Blues
  • 03 High Heel Sneekers
  • 04 The Things That I Used To Do
  • 05 Pepper's Hangout
  • 06 Looking For My Baby
  • 07 Riding In The Moonlight
  • 01 Same Old Blues
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (04:34) [10.45 MB]
  • 02 Married Woman Blues
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (05:24) [12.37 MB]
  • 03 High Heel Sneekers
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (04:49) [11.04 MB]
  • 04 The Things That I Used To Do
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (05:08) [11.75 MB]
  • 05 Pepper's Hangout
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (04:20) [9.93 MB]
  • 06 Looking For My Baby
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (06:05) [13.92 MB]
  • 07 Riding In The Moonlight
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (04:00) [9.17 MB]
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Jimmy Johnson
Pepper’s Hangout
Delmark DD-745

1. Same Old Blues 4:30
2. Married Woman Blues 5:20
3. High Heel Sneakers 4:47
4. The Things That I Used To Do 5:04
5. Pepper’s Hangout 4:17
6. Looking For My Baby 6:00
7. Riding In The Moonlight 3:59

Jimmy Johnson, vocals, guitar
Bob Riedy, piano
David Matthews, bass
Jon Hiller, drums

Recorded March 29, 1977

Jimmy proved himself one of the best contemporary blues artist in the late seventies and early eighties with two killer albums on Delmark, Johnson’s Whacks (Delmark 644) and North // South (Delmark 647). Jim O’Neal, founding editor of Living Blues, wrote "Jimmy's fervent, high-register singing is just stunning; combined with his fluent, note-bending guitar work, those marvelous vocals invest the supercharged blues of Jimmy Johnson not just with deep emotion but also with a rare, anguished kind of beauty." His original 1977 notes and new updated notes enclosed.

The Ralph Bass Series
In 1977, Ralph Bass recorded, at the culmination of a brilliant career, a series of ten very brief and informal sessions - a survey of then lesser known talent on the Chicago blues scene. Bass had launched careers by T-Bone Walker, James Brown, Little Esther and others. Delmark is proud to add these sessions, many previously available only as imports, to its renowned blues catalog.

Delmark Records
4121 N. Rockwell
Chicago, IL 60618
C P 2000 Delmark Records

1. Same Old Blues (Campbell/Sain, Conrad Music, BMI) 4:30
2. Married Woman Blues (Tony Hollins, Universal Duchess Music Corp./Wabash Music Co., BMI) 5:20
3. High Heel Sneakers (Robert Higginbotham, Lily Pond Music, BMI) 4:47
4. The Things That I Used To Do (Eddie Jones, Sony/ATV Music, BMI) 5:04
5. Pepper’s Hangout (Jimmy Johnson, Shaunte Music, BMI) 4:17
6. Looking For My Baby (Jimmy Johnson, Shaunte Music, BMI) 6:00
7. Riding In The Moonlight (Sanders/Taub, Powerforce Music, BMI) 3:59

Album Production: Robert G. Koester
Recorded at P.S. Studios, Chicago
Photo: Marc PoKempner
Design: Kate Hoddinott

Other Delmark albums of interest:
Jimmy Johnson, Johnson’s Whacks (644)
North / /South (647)
Syl Johnson, Talkin’ Bout Chicago (729)
Back In The Game (674) with Hi Rhythm
Little Milton, Live At Westville Prison (681)
Johnny B. Moore, Troubled World (701)
Live At Blue Chicago (688) with Willie Kent, Karen Carroll
Lurrie Bell, Blues Had A Baby (736)
Kiss Of Sweet Blues (724) with Dave Specter
700 Blues (700)
Mercurial Son (679)

Other albums in The Ralph Bass Series include:
Lacy Gibson, Crying For My Baby (689) with Sunnyland Slim, Lee Jackson
Eddy Clearwater, Boogie My Blues Away (678) with Little Mack Simmons
Carey Bell, Heartaches And Pain (666) with Lurrie Bell
Lonnie Brooks, Let’s Talk It Over (660)
Sunnyland Slim, Smile On My Face (735) with Lacy Gibson, Lee Jackson

"Pepper's Hangout" was slated to be Jimmy Johnson's first full album when he recorded it under the title "Chicago Roots" for veteran Chicago producer Ralph Bass back in March of 1977. Johnson, then 48 years old, had only recently begun building a career as a blues artist after years of working the
soul/R&B circuit. Sides that he and fellow Chicagoan Eddy Clearwater cut for
Ralph Bass did win the pair a Handy Award as Contemporary Blues Album of the Year -- but the award didn't come until 1985, and even then it was in the
Foreign, not U.S., category. The whole 10-LP "Chicago Roots" series was
quashed by its original U.S. sponsor, and a British label finally licensed
the material years later. In the end, the tapes found a home in the U.S.
again when Delmark purchased the rights.
Jimmy Johnson's session for Ralph Bass was not without its problems right from the outset. As it happened, America's premier music writer, Peter
Guralnick, was an onlooker at the studio that night, and devoted a short
segment of his 1979 "Lost Highways" book to the recording session. A
recording console blew fuses, Jimmy had to cope with a new drummer when Sam Lay didn't show, and he also wanted a dirtier guitar sound than Bass was
giving him. But, Guralnick wrote, "The songs are good, and Jimmy Johnson
plays with the same delicacy and feeling that you hear in the clubs, his
somewhat thin, sensitive voice always retaining a brittle edge." Sensing that
all was not right with Bass' plans, however, Peter ended the vignette with
Johnson packing up afterwards: "All he can hope for now is that the record
will actually be released."
It was a prophetic statement, of course. The session tapes languished for
years awaiting release. But, fortunately, the delay didn't hamper Jimmy's
move towards top honors in the blues world. In October of 1977, he recorded
an album called "Tobacco Road" at a West Side club for the French MCM label,
which became his first full LP as a featured artist and bandleader. (His
first outing for MCM, recorded with Jimmy Dawkins' group, was "Ma Bea's
Rock," a 1975 album he split with Luther "Guitar Jr." Johnson.) In February
of 1978, Alligator Records took Jimmy into the studio to record what would
become the leadoff tracks for the acclaimed "Living Chicago Blues" series.
(Half of the artists who'd recorded for the aborted Ralph Bass series also
ended up on the Alligator anthologies.) "Living Chicago Blues" earned a
Grammy nomination, and Johnson went on to cut two fine albums for Delmark,
"Johnson's Whacks" and "North//South," both of which featured Handy
Award-winning original songs. In 1983, another French album, "Heap See," was repackaged in the U.S. by Alligator as "Bar Room Preacher," further
propelling Johnson's career. By the time Ralph Bass finally made an overseas
deal for his Jimmy Johnson tapes with Red Lightnin' in England, Jimmy was a
hot name on the international blues circuit, and has remained in the highest
esteem among blues aficionados ever since, even though he has maintained a
fairly low profile in recent years. He added another trophy to his auspicious
array of awards in 1996 when his Verve CD "I'm A Jockey" picked up a Handy as Comeback Album of the Year. A 1999 effort for Ruf, "Every Road Ends," showed Johnson to still be a top-flight blues artist.
Now, as Jimmy Johnson celebrates his 72nd birthday, what was to have been his first full album hereby becomes his seventh. Its title honors a South Side blues club (actually Pepper's Hideout, originally just Pepper's Lounge) that shared a start-and-stop, here-and-there history similar to that of the whole
album. Bass -- a crafty studio warrior but not much of a clubgoer any more by
1977 -- had each band do an instrumental for every album and later named or
misnamed the tunes at random for Chicago blues joints that were in operation
at the time (or so he thought: Pepper's had already left its third location,
the Hideout at 2335 S. Cottage Grove, not far from the studio where Jimmy
Johnson recorded, and had subsequently attempted short-lived reincarnations
at two South Halsted Street sites by the time of the recording session).
Just as this should have been a debut album for Jimmy Johnson, so the
following liner notes should have served to introduce Jimmy Johnson to the
blues world. They are published here for the first time, as written for the
"Chicago Roots" LP in 1977.

-- Jim O'Neal (October, 2000)

Jimmy Johnson comes from one of the most gifted musical families of the
modern Chicago blues era. His younger brothers, Syl and Mac, were a part of
the burgeoning new blues movement of the late 1950s and have since gained
some degree of fame on their separate paths-Syl as a popular contemporary
soul singer, Mac as a well-respected bass player whose abilities have been
displayed all the way from Chicago's West Side to Europe. Jimmy was the last
brother to commit his talents to the blues and now it's clearly his turn for
success and recognition as a first-rate Chicago bluesman. Jimmy's fervent,
high-register singing is just stunning; combined with his fluent, note-bending guitar work, those marvelous vocals invest the supercharged blues of Jimmy Johnson not just with deep emotion but also with a rare, anguished kind of beauty.
Jimmy's assertion that he's really been singing the blues for only the last
three or four years would surprise anyone who has seen or heard his thoroughly convincing blues performances recently. Even though his father
played blues guitar and harmonica in Mississippi, Jimmy didn't get a guitar
until after his arrival in Chicago in 1950-and even then, he was playing
gospel music, not blues. Jimmy, whose last name is actually Thompson, was
born in Holly Springs, Mississippi, on November 25, 1928, started singing in
church when he was 10 years old, and later joined a spiritual group in
Memphis called the United Five. In Chicago he worked for a couple of years
with the Golden Jubilaires, a group which also included Otis Clay. But while
his brothers were embarking on their recording and performing careers, Jimmy
decided to concentrate on his job as a welder, and didn't get back into music
until 1959. (Soon thereafter, Syl's records started coming out under the name
Syl Johnson; the other brothers eventually followed suit and abandoned their
true surname.)
Jimmy did play with several blues bands back then, and listened intently to guitarists Magic Sam, Otis Rush and M.T. Murphy, but he talks of those days
as his formative ones, spent in preparation for his main occupation of the
’60s: house bandleader-guitarist for the soul/R&B nightspots of the South and
West Sides. Magic Sam ("my idol," says Jimmy) and Freddie King would let him
sit in, and Jimmy worked with Harmonica Slim Willis for about a year. But he
was also taking guitar lessons at a music school downtown as well as from
Reggie Boyd, an expert technician who has taught notes and chords to many a
Chicago guitarist. The training enabled Jimmy to play in a variety of styles,
which was just what he needed to front the house bands during the following
years at clubs like the Happy Home, the White Rose, the Blue Flame, and the
Brass Rail. Jimmy boasts that his band could play every popular soul tune,
and on shows they often backed singers such as Walter Jackson, Garland Green, Denise LaSalle, Otis Clay, and Jimmy's brother Syl.
In recent years, however, Jimmy came to feel that even with a versatile,
top-notch band, a few soul records to his credit, and his broad musical
knowledge, his career was almost at a standstill. He accepted an offer to
join Jimmy Dawkins' blues band and worked steadily with Dawkins until 1975,
in the city, on the road, on a Japanese tour, and in the recording studio.
Since then, he's worked with other singers and with his own band, still quite
adept at jazz and funk and R&B ballads, but getting deeper and deeper into
the blues. For "Chicago Roots," Jimmy's first full LP, he brought his regular
second guitarist, David Matthews, in to play bass, while Bob Riedy and Jon
Hiller, who plays drums in Riedy's band, rounded out the studio group. Jimmy
also recorded for a French blues label [MCM] in 1975 and has played on recent
sessions with Billy "The Kid" Emerson, Alabama Red, and others. Jimmy
modestly claims he's still learning about the blues. The truth is, it's time
for the blues world to learn about Jimmy Johnson.
-- Jim O'Neal (1977)

  • Members:
    Jimmy Johnson, vocals, guitar Bob Riedy, piano David Matthews, bass Jon Hiller, drums
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